Penguin previews interactive books for Apple's iBook store

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Penguin Books’ CEO John Makinson gave a presentation in London today where he demonstrated some books/applications–I’m not sure what you’d call them technically–that Penguin plans to sell on the iBook store when the iPad launches later this month. Penguin is doing some pretty inventive stuff with its content, judging by these demos, and I think it points a clear path toward how publishers can provide new offerings that printed books can’t match.

Included in the demo:

– A children’s book that includes interactive activities for the reader: at one point, the child may be asked to help the main character color in a picture before swiping to the next page of the story.

– A reference book based on DK’s The Concise Human Body, where users can tap illustrations to zoom in for a detailed view, then tap again to transition to animated 3D models.

– Networked, community-driven editions of books from the Vampire Academy series, where a reader can both read the book and interact with other readers.

– Travel books that allow readers to develop itineraries and make use of interactive maps.

– An astronomy book that uses GPS and the iPad’s motion sensor to display constellations that match up with the sky above you.

It’s all quite impressive–I especially like the Vampire Academy books, which allow you to read the book traditionally but also extend your level of interaction through a built-in, attractive social network interface.

Makinson suggests that the ePub format can’t handle some of the more advanced content they’ve come up with, so the publisher is planning on releasing apps in many cases. I think this is one area where publishers can claim a huge amount of revenue in the digital book marketplace; it’s a lot harder for an independent or writer to develop a high-concept app than it is to self-publish a “traditional” ebook, and I suspect customers will gladly pay significant amounts of money for books that do more than just display text.

“First Look: How Penguin Will Reinvent Books With iPad” [Moconews.net]

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